A new PSA video features Senate Republicans pushing the debunked myth that unlicensed cannabis may contain lethal amounts of the opioid fentanyl.
Now, the GOP isn’t exactly known for being tethered to reality. For instance, a concerning number of Republicans still believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, despite a legion of election officials, federal judges, and Trump’s own attorney general saying otherwise.
Anyway, the new video, released on Thursday, shows several Republican senators warning Americans against fentanyl with the tagline: “One pill can kill.” In all fairness, this can be true. Record numbers of Americans are dying from opioid overdoses, and many of those can be attributed to fentanyl, which is several times more potent than morphine.
However, the blowhard claim that weed can contain fentanyl specifically came from Sen. John Boozman (pronounced “bohz-man”).
“...illicit drugs like marijuana, heroin, and meth are being laced with fentanyl…” Boozman (R-AR) said around the video’s 38-second mark.
Warnings against fentanyl-laced weed started with police departments in the 2010s. As the opioid crisis exploded, hyping up fentanyl’s dangers exploded, as well. The claim even reached all the way to the Trump White House.
However, the reality, unsurprisingly, doesn’t match up with the real world. In June, Leafly released a thorough — and exhaustive — report on claims that cannabis contained fentanyl. Leafly concluded the claim was entirely bogus, a myth on par with “the fear of razor blades in Halloween candy bars, they’re perennially scary in theory, but never proven in fact.”
It’s also interesting to note that Boozman specifically lumped “marijuana” in with “heroin and meth.” He didn’t use the proper term for the drug — cannabis — but instead opted for conservatives’ favorite Mexican slang term: The same one used by Harry Anslinger during the 1930s Reefer Madness to equate cannabis with immigrants rather than with the plant-based medicines Americans were intimately familiar with at that time.
The anti-Latine rhetoric surrounding the use of “marijuana” isn’t a stretch, either. Republicans have elevated fentanyl as today’s drug boogeyman of choice, since it’s an easy way to simultaneously demonize both China and Mexico, the supposed sources of America’s illicit fentanyl.
Focusing on fentanyl also distracts the public from thinking about oxycodone or OxyContin, the drug pimped out by Purdue Pharma that actually triggered today’s opioid crisis. This, in turn, prevents Americans from thinking about all the campaign donations Purdue provided to the nation’s politicians, namely the GOP.
During the 2016 election cycle, Purdue Pharma’s contributions to the Democrats and Republicans were split nearly 50/50, with a slight majority of funds going to the Democrats. However, by the next election cycle in 2018, that flipped, and just over a whopping 80% of Purdue’s money went to Republicans.
Keep in mind that corporations rarely contribute directly to political campaigns anymore. These days, most big businesses prefer to funnel political money through PACs, so the public can’t tell where the funds actually came from or where they’re going.
Regardless, it’s both incredibly irresponsible and downright evil for the GOP to equate cannabis with fentanyl overdoes, especially when the lies come from a senator whose state is currently banking off legal weed.
If politicians actually cared about their fellow Americans, they’d be encouraging cannabis use rather than dragging it (and that goes for the Democrats, as well, Mr. Joseph Biden). Studies show that legalizing cannabis reduces opioid use across the board, which would be one first major step to tackling the opioid crisis. Furthermore, legal cannabis directly results in fewer deaths from opioid overdoses. These are not anecdotes. This is verified science.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that the same political party that equates Black Lives Matter with the KKK is still peddling this myth that Mexicans (and Chinese people) are killing Americans with cannabis. After all, this is the same party that convinced half the country that critical race theory — a subject primarily taught only to law school students — was being pushed by “Marxist” teachers in middle and high schools, despite zero evidence of it happening.
Make no mistake: The GOP does not want America thinking about social justice, social programs, or drug reform — the things that would actually prevent opioid deaths in the future.
There is an active campaign by Republicans to completely rewrite history as we know it, to replace it with a fascist fiction where wealthy white men save civilization from Black, Xicano, and Asian people. And fascists in the US have always used drug scares and anti-drug laws to enforce racist policies against their fellow Americans.
It's never too late to do the right thing. A federal cannabis legalization bill was just introduced to the US Senate, where Republicans hold half the seats. Contact your state's Republican US senator by clicking here, and tell them to vote in favor of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) if they truly want to reduce opioid deaths in the US.
Cover image via YouTube screen capture